The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on the meaning and making of covenant.
1 After these things [after Abraham delivered his nephew Lot by warfare] the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
7 And he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land…”
Observations and reflection
Note: A covenant made in blood is a pledge or treaty between two parties (such as strong friendships, political agreements etc) which implies the binding of two people together in partnership; the shedding of blood symbolizes the gravity of the agreement, pointing to the death of the one who will break it.
- God met with Abraham. How did He introduce Himself to Abraham, and what promise does that imply? (v1)
- Abraham had two very basic concerns which he brought to God’s attention (v3, v8)
- What was God’s promise regarding these two things? (v5, v18)
- Abraham sought security of the promise. How did God grant security? (v18a)
- In simple words describe what God did during the covenant ceremony.
- What did Abraham do during this ceremony?
- Usually in such a covenant ceremony the lessor party would walk between the cut animals to indicate that if the terms of covenant is broken, it will result in death.
- Who walked between the sacrifice in this instance?
- What does that reveal about God’s character?
- What does that reveal about God’s covenant with Abraham and his offspring? [hint: Who died 2000 years later on a hill not far from there?]
Personal reflection and Prayer
The substitutionary death of Christ was ultimately the price God paid on behalf of man’s breaking of covenant with Him. In that way God made peace between us and Him.
- Consider the very personal motive and content of the covenant God made with Abraham (an heir and property to leave as inheritance). How does your relationship with God compare to the authenticity and intimacy of Abraham relationship with God?
- This Text began in a vision where God made a very personal, covenantal commitment to Abraham. Have you ever had such a vision or dream where God spoke to you? Recall those moments and reflect on those conversations. (If you have never had such an encounter – ask God for such a meeting).
- Consider God’s part in this relational initiative – from beginning to end He initiated everything. How does that compare to your view and experience of God?
- Pray about your covenant relationship with God in Christ in light of God’s covenant with Abraham.
- Thank God for initiating and fulfilling this covenant relationship you have through the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ our Lord. (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
- Ask God to reveal Himself to you as He did to Abraham (in Genesis 15:1).
- Now as Abraham did, in sincerity and forthrightness bring your deepest desires and fears to God, then wait for His answer.
- Before you go on with your day, renew your loyalty and devotion to Him. You might do this by asking Him what is His heart or what are the things He desires most. Wait for His answer and pray about that.